I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and I’m still a Steelers fan and my family is all back in PA.
Some fairly major changes in my life about 15 years ago convinced me that a hard reset might be in order. I had a friend who lived in …
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Some fairly major changes in my life about 15 years ago convinced me that a hard reset might be in order. I had a friend who lived in Broomfield at the time and I came out to visit and fell in love with Colorado. Six months later I was out here living in Lakewood.
There is so much opportunity to get outdoors and move around. I’m fairly convinced that if I’d stayed in Pittsburgh I might be dead because I was in such lousy shape.
Once I moved here, I started hiking, cycling, skiing. I’m not what you’d call built, but I’m definitely got healthier by moving out here. I think I dropped 40 pounds in the first couple years here.
I love the Arkansas River headwaters area: The whole Buena Vista/Twin Lakes/ Collegiate Peaks area is probably my favorite in the whole state. Great rafting, camping, and some pretty good restaurants and watering holes too.
I am generally terrible at all sports, but I love to play disc golf (another thing I got turned on to by moving to CO).
I love to cook. My wife, who is also a teacher at MRHS, is an awesome cook. Between the two of us, we’ve always got something going on in the kitchen.
A teacher with soul...and funk
By day I teach English language Arts at Mountain Range High School in Westminster. By night, I play guitar for Thumpin’, a local funk/soul/R&B band. I live a pretty interesting life in general, being an educator and musician
I’ve got a creative side, and teaching is one of those gigs that lets you be fairly autonomous and creative. I like to bring music into the classroom whenever possible, either by looking at some song lyrics whenever it seems a good fit to the lit we’re reading or just having Spotify going while the kiddos are working independently
I began playing guitar at 14 and was in my first band at 16, so I’ve been doing the music thing for quite some time now.
I had a handful of high school buddies that were also musicians, so we’d get together at someone’s house and head out to the garage or basement or wherever and just hack our way through whatever songs were simple enough for us to play. I’m sure we were awful, but that’s the way you start.
How am I doing?
I think I can come across as a little arrogant at times, but the truth is I’m fairly insecure. I think I’m an average musician at best and only a marginally better teacher. I kinda’ have this need for people to let me know that’s not the case; validation that I’m doing a good job.
When I started teaching in 1997 it was really tough to get a teaching gig. I was a substitute teacher, which is not a whole lot of fun, for two years before I got my first full-time position. I was really excited to get my foot in the door somewhere. The high school I landed at was fairly prestigious, so I was really proud to land that job.
Changes in the cloud
Cloud-based computing has fundamentally changed both teaching and music. Ten years ago, if you were in a band you’d have to get music to all your players on a cassette or CD. Now you upload it to Dropbox.
If you wanted to get some good ideas for planning a lesson or assessment, you got on the phone and called a colleague or bought a book or went to a library and dug through the stacks for ideas. Now you have thousands of educators sharing ideas online, you’ve got teachers sharing their work through Google drive at their job sites. Everything is so much more readily accessible.
Fighting for education
Around five or six years ago I started to really pay attention to some of the educational reforms that were becoming popular that I really don’t agree with. I started reading a lot of education bloggers and journalists and really started to become somewhat of an activist for public education.
Some may accuse me of hyperbole, but I’m here to tell you that there are more than a few people out there making education policy that would love nothing more than to see the whole system collapse and be replaced with for-profit schools. I think public education is an essential pillar of a democratic society, and I will fight for its preservation until my last breath.
People have told me that I was born 20 years too late, that the sixties are my era. OK, I’ll go with that and get a chance to see Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. in their heyday.
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